On the morning of Friday, 10th of November, 44 tired but excited students (Year 10-13) and three even more excited teachers boarded a coach at a very early hour in the morning, to set off to York for the Aesthetica Short Film Festival. The festival showed a broad spectrum of all the up and coming short films, showcasing talent from around the world, bringing everyone together through cinema. The festival also offered masterclasses, helping the visitors an insight into how the world of film works.
At the beginning of the day, the majority of Helsby High school students began with the ‘Opening Night Repeat Screening’ consisting with the best of the best, the crème de la crème of what was on offer, and boy, they did not disappoint! The first film was a French film called ‘For Real, Tho’ which was brilliantly meta and so self-aware that it made the audience question the reality and validity of film generally. I personally had a small existential crisis sat in the darkened room, as the ‘director’ sat and counted seconds, just to tell us she had wasted everybody’s time, and we were all closer to dying than when she had started.
Another of the best was a German film called ‘Backstory’ which had a brilliant voice over, narrating the life of a man, as we were shown it through his eyes, or more accurately at the back of his head. It showed the ups and downs of life, until finally, we saw an old man, and his face. It then zoomed back through the narrative, and showed the emotions of the man, showing (quite appropriately) his ‘best bits’ with the emotion on screen rather than just narration.
The majority stayed in the fantastic York Theatre Royal (one of the twelve pop-up theatres available, which were dotted around York for the festival) for the ‘Thriller’ screening, which proved especially useful for Year Elevens and Thirteens who are in the process of planning and filming our own horror/thriller trailers as part of our coursework. Our final viewing was an Irish black comedy thriller hybrid called ‘Gridlock’ which followed the narrative of a father who was stuck in traffic down a small countryside road. We realise his daughter has gone missing from the car, when he checks to see what is holding them up. We then are taken on an investigation with passers by, using brilliant handheld medium shots, putting us in the role of detective with the characters, trying to find the kid and her kidnapper.
We then were silently(ish) ushered out by Ms McGuirk, and led to our masterclass at York St. John University, where we had an interactive talk with two important people from Triforce Creative Network. The talk was ‘Inclusivity Not Exclusivity: Breaking Down Barriers’ and tackled some important issues about diversity within the industry. They then spoke about their work to help diverse groups in, and discussed gateways to getting into the film and TV industry.
After the masterclass and a spot of lunch (McDonalds – other fast food chains are available!) we made our way down to get dramatic with Drama at the National Centre for Early Music which was described by ASFF as ‘A Kaleidoscope of Emotion’. Our final sit down tackled some pretty major subjects, such as: sexuality and identity in ‘Calamity’; alcoholism in ‘The Entertainer’; feminism in ‘Zarpazo’ conflict in ‘Die Überstellung’ and morality in ‘Firecracker’.
Although the sixth-formers were allowed to stray from the teachers and choose their own route around the small city, most of us stuck with them, because of the attraction to the brilliant films, and because we couldn’t really decide where to go otherwise! However, as we made our way back to the coach, some of us strayed from the large Helsby pack to stock up on snacks, resulting in some very involuntary running to make the coach in time!
On the whole I would say a very successful and edutainment-full day. Thank you to the teachers (Ms McGuirk, Mr Mellor and Mr Kenney) for putting up with us J
Maisie N. – Year 13